The Cheap Guy Rides Again

In another movie, I wrote a newspaper column called The Cheap Guy , which advocated that we all get off the spending merry-go-round and bring simplicity and frugality into our lives. This frugality movement had an interesting, almost cult-like, run. We lived – some of us still do – by a few simple truths: Live within your means, avoid major debt, always save 15 per cent of your money, and, when you buy anything, look at value and need, not status or convenience. But compared to the age of iPod, that was pretty boring stuff. And so in the interim many – individuals and businesses alike – forgot or ignored these truths. They (we?) had to have the bigger house, the better car, the classier office address, the home-run sale, the 200 per cent annual growth rate. Now of course, we’re moaning and weeping because it’s stopped – and it’s all somebody else’s fault. Governments, stock market maniacs, greedy bankers, stupid customers – take your pick. Apparently, Hard Times are officially here. The weekend papers have just used up 9,785 trees to insist on it. Heck, a TV station actually ran film of Depression-era bread lines. This kind of gloom will eventually overwhelm even the most optimistic. I expect soup kitchens will open in your neighbourhoods any day (probably right next to those places that sell three-dollar coffee). People will be very afraid for some time. We may just have to revisit and remember those simple truths I mentioned above. So I’m thinking it’s time the Cheap Guy returned from exile. That doesn’t mean I’ll be standing on street corners in a hair shirt screaming that the end is nigh. But I believe the words frugal and simple should re-enter the general business lexicon. If you’ve managed to remain frugal amidst the buy-buy hype, I’d like to hear how you did it.